I’ve been traveling by myself for just over a week now, and things are going well. Merce left Prague, and I spent the next two days traipsing about by myself. Saturday was a fairly low-key day, but I went to the Franz Kafka museum, and to the train station to try and reserve a seat for my train to Berlin—turns out that I didn’t need to. I was disappointed that there was no museum for Milan Kundera, another Czech author, and one of my very favorites. That night, I took myself off to a bar, to find that I just wasn’t digging it. On my way I ran into some horrible Americans who I couldn’t manage to rid myself of. Eventually I decided I was going home– it was time for bed. The next day brought new dormmates and new friends. Monday was my last day in Prague. I began the day by going over Charles Bridge again to see if there were any touristy things I would like to purchase. As it turned out, there weren’t, which is far better for my wallet. I then went to the Museum of Communism, which was just intense… I can’t think of a better word to describe it, but it really made me think about the quality of life we enjoy. After the museum, I went back to the hostel to get ready for the night. Before going out, I went to see a selection of arias from 4 of Mozart’s best known works, performed at the Estates Theater, the theater at which Don Giovanni had its world premiere. The performance itself was not quite what I was expecting– it was quite minimalist. There were three musicians, and two singers. The singers were superb though and overall, despite it not being quite as grand as I had expected, it was an unforgettable experience. To hear his music, filling the theater in which it was premiered gave me chills; it was beautiful.
So that night, I went out for a few drinks with my new dorm mates– two chaps from Wimbledon (extremely close to where I’m staying at my uncle’s).
I got up the next morning and got ready to leave, checked out, and made my way to the train station. I was unsure of how exactly everything would work because this was to be the first time I would use my rail pass. Everything went smoothly and on the train to Berlin, I met a nice American boy named Aaron, who was also going to Berlin. Consequently, we ended up exploring Berlin together for the next two days. I have met some incredible people on my travels already, which has made my travels that much more enjoyable. You make a friend and connect for a couple of days, and part ways, each to go off to see more new and amazing things. Condensed friendships… smashed into the course of a few days, if that, but each connection meaningful and important.
So. Berlin was an absolute whirlwind, because I decided only to stay for two nights. I didn’t get to my hostel until about 5:00 PM, then met up with Aaron to go see the sights, and get some dinner. We walked around for hours and didn’t get dinner until 11:30 at night, then each caught respective trains home. We met up again the next morning at the Pergamon, a museum in Berlin. It was incredible. It housed the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Each of these was so awe-inspiring, grand and decadent. It was a fabulous museum. There was a large portion of the museum dedicated to Greek and Roman sculpture and mythology, which I find absolutely fascinating. It’s something, among many things, that I would like to learn more about. After the Pergamon we went to the Holocaust Memorial, which was undoubtedly the best I’ve ever seen. It was very effective, at least for me, in making me visualize the magnitude of the devastation. The information center below the memorial made me cry. It focused on families and their stories, showcasing the individuals, their lives, and more often than not, their heart-wrenching, undeserved deaths. There were letters too. Excerpts that had been taken from postcards, and journals, and last letters to loved ones.
“Dear father! I am saying goodbye to you before I die. We would so love to life, but they won’t let us and we will die. I am so scared of this death, because the small children are thrown alive into the pit. Goodbye forever. I kiss you tenderly.
This was written by 12 year old Judith Wischnjatskaja, as a postscript at the end of her mother’s letter to her father. It kills me.
After this sobering experience, we went to the Topography of Terrors, which documents the history of the SS. After that we went to the East Side Gallery, which is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. It was neat, but spots have been given to artists to paint over… making it visually interesting, but I feel it detracts from its history. Our feet were killing us by this point, so at we went to the train station to get a Doner Kebap, and return to my hostel to do some drinking. Oh and drink we did.
The next morning, I was off to Frankfurt to stay with some family friends, which is where I am now. I’ve been here for a few days and have just been taking it easy. I haven’t really seen the sights, but I did go to the Palmengarten, which was absolutely breathtaking. The gardens were expansive and impressive, with many exquisite tropical flowers. We’ve been out drinking a few nights, and in general I have had a delightful and relaxing time. They have been so kind to me, and I cannot express how grateful I am for this. People who make you feel comfortable and at home, when home is so far away… these are wonderful people to know and have in your life.
Tomorrow morning I am off to Amsterdam, where I will be for 3 nights. I’m excited for the Van Gogh museum, the Anne Frank house, the Heineken tour, and OK, I’m excited to see the red-light district.
OK. Picture time!
This is what Prague looks like. Basically all of it. I love it.
A statue of the Czech flag… I thought it was pretty.
OK. This is the best fountain I’ve ever seen. The hips move back and forth while two men who face one another relieve themselves. Even better than the fountain itself was when children started to play in the fountain.
The Jerusalem Synagogue. This picture doesn’t do the vibrancy of the colors justice. This is one of the most magnificent buildings I have ever seen.
Inside the Estates Theater, getting ready for the show to start.
The opera singers.
The view of German scenery on the way from Prague to Berlin.
The TV Tower in Berlin. Berlin’s tallest building… it’s hard to miss.
The Berliner Dom, an ornate and exquisite cathedral.
The Brandenburger Tor is one of the city gates, and became one of the east-west crossing points when the Berlin wall was built.
The statue on top of the Branenburger Tor.
My name is Liz Miller. I carry a moustache around with me always, so I can take pictures like this.
The Holocaust Memorial.
A stretch of still standing Berlin Wall (not part of the East Side Gallery).
Standing on the east and west of where the Wall used to stand.
A sunset over Berlin.
A butterfly!!! This is in the Palmengarten
Another picture from the Palmengarten. I think Dahlias are my new favorite flowers– they are just so delicate and perfect. The gardens housed so many different varieties and colors of dahlias, I loved it!
OK, so as I said. Off to Amsterdam tomorrow. Probably Brussels after that. I’ll try to update more than once a week.
❤ to you all